- Calls for probe of prime suspect’s death
Deji Elumoye in Abuja and Hammed Shittu in Ilorin
Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, wednesday said he had been vindicated by the latest revelation by Police High Command that the principal suspect in the armed robbery attack, Michael Adikwu, had died in custody.
He, therefore, called on the presidency to probe the death of Adikwu “so as to know how and when the suspect died”.
No fewer than 32 people were killed in the robbery operation which involved five commercial banks on April 5, 2018.
Saraki in a statement by his Special Adviser, Yusuph Olaniyonu, in Abuja noted that the new disclosure by the police has vindicated his earlier claim that the suspect had been murdered in police custody and that the investigation was politically-motivated to implicate him (Senate president), Governor Abdulfatah Ahmed of Kwara State and a few others.
According to him, the inquiry would help to thoroughly examine and interrogate how the investigation into the robbery incident was conducted by the police and whether the investigation followed the normal process and comply with global best practices.
He added that the police needed to confirm why it took them so long to make the disclosure about the death of the principal suspect after they categorically denied it at the time he (Saraki) disclosed the information and it was reported in the media.
He said, “It should be recalled that when we mentioned it that the principal suspect had been murdered and that investigation into the Offa robbery attack was politically-motivated and targeted at implicating me and other individuals, the Police Public Relations Officer, Moshood Jimoh said: ‘Michael Adikwu is in police custody. You know that he is the one that led the killing of 22 people. The firearms that were carted away, he is helping the police in the investigation to recover them. There is a state in the South-west where they kept him. I can’t mention the state. It is in one of the South-west states’.”
Saraki added that the fresh facts have now thrown more light into why there had been inconsistencies in the various statements by the police.
“The police initially told the Attorney-General of Kwara State that the principal suspect was alive and they only later reluctantly disclosed that he died in the course of arrest. How can a suspect confirmed to be in custody now be said to have died in the course of arrest? This contradiction shows a deliberate attempt to cover up something.
“It is obvious that the police have orchestrated the information they give to the public on the Offa robbery only to tarnish the image of the Kwara State Governor and myself.
Justifying his call for the probe of the suspect’s death, Saraki declared “we are calling for a public inquiry to probe the issues of extra-judicial killing, the cover-up of this killing with the aim of framing up some individuals for political purpose and politicising of criminal investigations.
The Kwara State Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Mr. Kamaldeen Ajibade (SAN), yesterday had disclosed at the state High Court that the prime suspect and gang leader in the Offa bank robbery, Adikwu, had died.
Five of the six principal suspects -Ayoade Akinnibosun, Ibikunle Ogunleye, Adeola Abraham, Salaudeen Azeez and Niyi Ogundiran were brought to court yesterday for arraignment.
However, Michael Adikwu, a dismissed police constable who was said to have confessed to being the mastermind of the bloody operation was not in court.
When the case came up wednesday, Ajibade, who said that his office received the case file of the robbery operation on Monday evening, explained that the head of the police investigation team, Mr. Abba Kyari, informed him that one of the suspects, Michael Adikwu was dead.
Ajibade said the police were yet to give details of Adikwu’s death and that the five suspects brought to court could not be charged until an amendment was made on the charge sheet.
According to him, “We have the names of six suspects on our charge sheet, but they brought five suspects, we cannot go on with the case until we amend the charges because we can not prosecute a dead person.”
The attorney-general also said that the case could not go on because the suspects had no legal representation.
He, however, urged the court to adjourn the case so that the charges could be amended and the suspects could get legal team to represent them.
It would be recalled that two lawyers who were representing the suspects announced their withdrawal from the case last week.
Justice Halima Salman adjourned the matter till November 30, 2018 and ordered that the suspects should get a legal team.